Museo Nacional del Prado – Madrid
The Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain, is one of the world’s largest and most renowned art museums, with a collection of over 20,000 works of art dating from antiquity to the 19th century.
The Prado museum is housed in an imposing neoclassical building, completed in 1785 after a design by architect Juan de Villanueva.
The building was commissioned by King Charles III to accommodate the Royal collections of Natural History, and transformed into an art museum opened to the public by his grandson, King Ferdinand VII, in 1819.
The museum complex also incorporated the only two remaining wings of the former Palacio del Buen Retiro, designed in the 17th century by architect Alonso Carbonell, known as the Casón and the Salón de Reinos (Hall of Realms).
The original name of the museum was Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura, yet it was popularly called Museo del Prado (Museum of the Meadow) since its opening because of the name of the site where it lies, known as Prado de los Jerónimos; eventually, the museum was also officially renamed as Museo del Prado in 1920.
Between 2001 and 2007, the Prado underwent major renovation and expansion works, after a design by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo.
In 2016, an international architectural competition was organized for the renovation of the Hall of Realms wing, with the team comprising Foster + Partners and Rubio Arquitectura eventually selected as the winner, and on-site construction works scheduled to begin in late 2018.
A view of the “Palacio del Buen Retiro” in 1637, before the construction of the Prado, in a painting by Jusepe Leonardo
Schematic view of the Prado Campus
Prado Museum, Jerónimos Building; photo courtesy of Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Jerónimos Courtyard; photo courtesy of Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
The collection of the Prado Museum comprises paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, and objects of decorative arts. The museum is particularly renowned for its outstanding collections of Italian Renaissance, and Spanish painting.
The painting collection consists of some 7,000 works, dating from the Middle-ages to the 19th century.
Works on view are exhibited into sections dedicated to Spanish, Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, German, and British artists, and include masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Antonello da Messina, Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Tintoretto, Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, Tiepolo, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Rogier van der Weyden, Rembrandt van Rijn, Pieter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, and Francisco Goya, among others.
Most notable pieces on view include the Annunciation by Fra Angelico, the Death of the Virgin by Mantegna, the Portrait of a Cardinal by Raphael, The Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg by Titian, the Descent from the Cross by van der Weyden, the Self-Portrait by Dürer, the Triumph of Death by Brueghel, the Holy Trinity by El Greco, Las Meninas by Velázquez, the Executions and the La Maja Desnuda by Goya.
The sculpture and decorative arts collection is mostly composed of European Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque pieces. The Castor and Pollux Roman copy from an original sculpture by Praxiteles is possibly the most important piece on view.
The museum also holds remarkable collections of print, drawings, and photographs.
The Prado museum program of activities includes temporary exhibitions, educational courses, research programs, and special events.
The museum building, generally accessible to physically impaired people, includes a library, an auditorium, a cafe-restaurant, and a shop.
View of the first part of the main gallery; photo courtesy of Museo Nacional del Prado
Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross, before 1443, oil on panel; photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Room 56B, with “The Annunciation” altarpiece by Fra Angelico (1425 – 1428. Tempera on panel); photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio), The Cardinal, 1510 – 1511, oil on panel; photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, 1635 – 1640, oil on canvas; photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, The drowning Dog, 1820 – 1823, mixed-method on mural transferred to canvas; photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes; La Maja Desnuda (before 1800), and La Maja Vestida (1800-1808); oil on canvas; photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Main gallery, ground floor; photo courtesy of Museo del Prado
Cover image, the Prado Museum, Velasquez entrance; photo courtesy of Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
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The winning design by Foster + Partners and the eight finalist proposals of the competition to redesign the Hall of Realms of the Prado Museum in Madrid
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